TRAVEL ALWAYS HAS its high and low seasons. There are always good and bad times to do the must-do activities in any destination, usually depending on the weather. But those recommendations don’t always line up with the necessities of our lifestyles.
Study and project plans here are only getting more intense, and the staff at our residence intended to give us as much exposure possible to as much of Hong Kong while they could. The piece de resistance? A hike up the Island’s tallest point, Victoria Peak. In summer. At 2.30 p.m.
OK, let’s be fair. They are locals, taking their time out to do this, and bonding was certainly part of the intention. But for me, I don’t know whether this is stupidity or endurance, but I attempted to do the whole thing – a 3 km trek, ascending 495 m – without water. OK, not stupidity, because I brought a full bottle just in case, but decided to see how long I could go without opening it. It was punishing – many of us were drenched in sweat even at the halfway point, and there was only one water station on the route.
When we arrived at the ‘centre’ of the peak (i.e. the touristy part with malls and shops, where most tourists stop and take their pictures of the view), the weather decided to give us more mercy, but realising we could go higher, we decided to keep our momentum. One of us who had been before told us that we would be wasting our time to try because there was nothing up there. But as long as I’m not risking death or any other severe catastrophe, I refuse to believe such things and have to go and see it for myself.
And he was right … in a way. Cloud cover gave us mercy from the heat but took away our view at that altitude. But, while we could barely see gaps in the skyline, the weather gave the ‘real’ peak – a remote telecommunications tower – all the more mystique. We were climbing a literal stairway to heaven – a narrow path with nothing on either side to catch a fall. You could not even see down – you stared into oblivion. And to be honest, I found it far more intriguing – an extra hundred metres would not have enhanced the view of Hong Kong’s skyline that much – but the endless white surrounding you gives you a rare feeling of nihilism, meditation and aether. It’s not the most glamorous time, but it gives me the most wonder.